Interview: With Malcolm Ngatai (#NZ1)

Photo Paul Tully.

Photo Paul Tully.

Hi Malcolm, welcome to the UK. Is this your first trip to the UK?

Thanks mate, no this is actually my third visit to the UK, but it will be my first time racing here.

You were out here (at Birmingham Wheels) for mid-week practice; was that your first time out in an F1? And what did you think?

Yes, Wednesday night was my first go in a F1 Stockcar. Also my first ever go on an Asphalt surface, so it was very different from what I’m used to running back home in New Zealand. Your cars are a lot more powerful than what we run; so the major difference is because they have so much power it didn’t want to turn into the corner, it didn’t want to stop so good. Whereas with ours you’ve got smaller motors so we can stop and turn them in so much easier. So it’s going to be real interesting seeing how I get on with that for the first few meetings.

Malcolm's finding it hard to get the power down without spinning the wheels at his first race meeting - Birmingham Wheels 24.08.09. Photo Colin Casserley

Malcolm's finding it hard to get the power down without spinning the wheels at his first race meeting - Birmingham Wheels 24.08.09. Photo Colin Casserley

So what type of engines to run back home?

We run Japanese type V8’s lexus or nissan 4.8 litre motors. And we’re only about 500bhp but they are very quick. I’d like to run one of them over here against these cars and see how they go.

I know you’ve only had a very short go in an F1 but is there anything you could see benefiting our cars?

Brakes, without doubt, brakes. It would be amazing to see how these (F1’s) handle with better brakes and tyres. If you could drive faster into the corner, and pull up closer to the corner that would make such a difference. From what I’ve run so far, these are so hard to stop going into the corner. We run Hoosiers and they work really well back home on the Clay. I can’t comment on the shale as I’ve not raced that yet, but you could do with something different for the Asphalt here at Birmingham, it feels really hard trying to get any rubber down (grip).

Out of the tracks you’ve visited on previous visits is there any you really like the look of?

Kings Lynn. World Final Kings Lynn, really looking forward to that. No matter what happens it’s going to be a party night. It’s my birthday as well so no matter, win or lose we’ll make a good night of that.

How did you first become interested in Stockcar racing?

From when I was a kid my Mum would take me to the speedway (stockcars) on a local bus that we had and it just went from there. I’ve been interested in anything with motors and wheels since then.
My local team growing up was the Christchurch Glen Eagles, and I used to support various different drivers from different grades (formulas). Bob Hughes, he was a Bomber driver, ‘Gentleman’ Gerald Griffiths he was a Stockcar, Superstocks driver back in the day.

How long have you been racing Stockcars?

About seven to eight years Superstocks. Previous to that probably seven years in what we call Streetstocks; contact is sometimes full contact but not like the Superstocks are.

Malcolm Ngatai's New Zealand SuperStock. Photo Colin Casserley.

Malcolm Ngatai's New Zealand SuperStock. Photo Colin Casserley.

When will be your first time on the shale?

Hopefully it will be Belle Vue (Monday 31st August), but we are still looking for a car to finalise for that. Tony’s car, which I used on Wednesday and hopefully tonight is for the Australian driver. As I was here, Tony kindly offered me a ride until the Australian takes hold of it.

You’ve still not got a car for the World Final?

No, but we’ve still got a few weeks yet, we get one, we get one, we’ll find something.

What do you like about the racing in New Zealand?

I like the stockcars because of the banging and pushing. We don’t wall people unless we’re team racing, but we definitely use the bumpers and that’s what it’s about, no one sulks about it. Just get out there and push each other around, then go have a beer afterwards.

Of course I’m going to ask you about the UK Team that came out this year, what was your impression of them?

We highly rated them, we didn’t come against them. We kind of felt we helped them get into a final. The Wanganui Team they had to face we destroyed them on the one before, then your guys went out there and finished them off. Two of our guys almost ended up in hospital doing what we did but there was no way we wanted to see the Wanganui team in third spot.

So the teams racing extends beyond just your own race?

Very much so, your guys have been coming out for quite a few years now and made a few friends, friends help friends. But if it had been for the final spot it might have been a different story. Everyone was happy to see them on the podium.

So have you got any tactics or plans for your racing here?

No, hopefully I’ll get a few more meetings to practice in the build up to the World Final. But if I get picked on by anybody I’ll be making sure they get nowhere in the World Final. Other than that I’ll be having a go in the World Final myself.

So will tonight be your first meeting (racing / spectating) of this trip?

No we were at the last Kings Lynn meeting. Tony Smith (91) took the car out himself and done really well. He got caught up in some damage, crashes and that but he did make his way to the front and was going well. Tony looked good and the car was going well.

It must be an expensive trip to finance do you get any help?

We get a little help from the governing bodies and a lot of local people back home done a lot of fund-raising. I’ll give a shout out the ‘Bob Duff Drinking Team’. They’ve been awesome, and just everybody back home who helped in any way.

Racing a BriSCA F1 Stockcar, is that something you’ve thought about doing up to now?

Yes, from your guys coming over it’s been something I’ve wanted to. I knew I’d need to win the NZ#1 which is something I’ve done. So yes very much looking forward to the Big one at Kings Lynn.

What about other ‘stockcar’ formula, have you raced any?

This winter I had a go in a Sprint Car. It was amazing power, I only got like six laps in it but that was awesome and all being well when I return from this trip I’ll get a ride in a Midget in Auckland so I’m looking forward to that as well.

Thanks for your time Malcolm. Good luck in the World Final and the build up races and Happy Birthday.

Thank you, not problem, and thanks to you guys for putting an Ad up for the T-Shirt. We’ve got plenty for sale and we also have a white Ladies Tees as well that’s different to the black one. So come by and say Hi in the pit’s, buy a T-Shirt and have some fun.

Stephen Cording

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